The Stanford Cardinal had a good chance to show that their upset win over the USC Trojans wasn't just a matter of Khaled Holmes being out and Stanford just being a bad matchup for USC, period. Go into Washington and get a signature victory, and suddenly Stanford might be ready to bang out with the big boys.
Didn't turn out that way. In fact, the game turned out about as poorly as you can expect for the Cardinal, managing a grand total of six offensive points.
The offensive production looked even worse. Stanford averaged an awful 3.6 yards per play, which in terms of national averages would place them in next-to-last place in the FBS behind Tulane. Stanford's run attack resumed their struggles as the big offensive line struggled to get any push; after Stepfan Taylor had two big plays against the Trojans, the Cardinal managed only 2.3 rushing yards per carry, with Taylor's biggest rush going for only 70 yards.
Nunes wasn't overwhelmed by the moment--he seemed to know where to go and what to do with the football, and he had ample pass protection. He just didn't look like a good quarterback. Nunes groundballed so many football throws I thought he was trying to bowl a cricket ball at his tight ends. Despite a nice connection with Zach Ertz (which at times felt like the ONLY Stanford offense), Nunes pretty much looked like a quarterback making his first college start on the road (particularly with the multiple delay of game penalties), and he didn't perform well enough.
The Cardinal offense had one drive over 30 yards in the second half (the last one), and didn't move the football over midfield the five drives previous. A lot of that is on Nunes. That's rough stuff.
It's not like Nunes was alone in being bad. Ty Montgomery dropped two big deep throws that if he had caught would have ended the game well before the final Washington comeback attempt. Levine Toilolo troll-lololed a few of his routes by running too shallow, including the game-clinching interception. The Stanford defense made critical errors to give up the two touchdowns. And David Shaw's attempt of a Toilolo fade on 4th and short was just not a good idea, with a predictable interception the result.
The Cardinal wasted a great performance from their defense. Although Stanford eventually made the two crucial errors in the second half, they would've just been footnotes if Stanford's offense had managed a touchdown or two.
We're now four games into the post-Andrew Luck era, and it's becoming clear this Cardinal offense just has a lot of work to do. In 60 minutes, they totally undid any hopes they had of being a legitimate Pac-12 North sleeper. That offense just isn't good enough to produce right now on the road, and in a Pac-12 filled with competent to great offenses, it's hard to see the Cardinal running through games like Oregon, UCLA and Arizona and Oregon State unblemished. The offense looks at best mediocre, and might contend for one of the worst in the conference.
Sorry Stanford fans, but it's definitely starting to look like Luck might have had something to do with all of it.